DUI Defense Lawyers in Brevard County, Florida
Laws, Charges, Punishments, and Legal Defenses for Brevard County Driving Under Influence (DUI) of Alcohol or Drugs
The adverse effects of a DUI, or driving under the influence, conviction in Brevard County, Florida, are long-lasting and pervasive. Mitigating the mistake made by driving under the influence in Brevard County, Florida, can be accomplished with the help of experienced, highly-skilled, and reputable Brevard County DUI defense lawyers. An experienced DUI defense lawyer from Brevard County, Florida, can protect you from the severe consequences that follow a DUI conviction.
DUI charges in Brevard County, Florida, are serious criminal offenses. Even driving under the influence as a first-time offender, carries the possibility of being sent to jail, forced into rehabilitation, paying large monetary fines, paying exorbitant fees to reinstate drivers licenses and take drivers educational courses, as well as facing the possibility of installing an ignition interlock device or having your car impounded.
DUI prosecutors in Brevard County fight vehemently to win convictions. These prosecutors are well trained and work alongside well trained and highly experienced law enforcement officers to build strong DUI cases. They know that driving while under the influence can be incredibly dangerous and often leads to the senseless loss of life. However, DUI charges in Brevard County, Florida, is different in many respects to other criminal charges. The prosecution still bears the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in all DUI cases; however, the state attorney does not have to prove that the accused got behind the wheel with the intent to drive while intoxicated. Conversely, almost every other criminal charge requires the state attorney to prove the accused had some criminal intent to commit a wrongful act.
Rarely does someone sit behind the wheel of a car with the intent to drive drunk. Usually, when a person gets behind the wheel of a car after having too much to drink, they are exercising poor judgment. Ironically, the poor judgment they are exercising likely stems from the consumption of alcohol. Drinking alcohol and then driving is utterly dangerous because the alcohol diminishes the capacity of the driver to appreciate the task of driving and often leads to making poor decisions.
People often mistake the level of intoxication they feel with driving while intoxicated. The police could arrest a person for DUI even if hey driver is not completely intoxicated. The police can make an arrest if the individual’s Blood Alcohol Level, or BAL, is at or above 0.08%, which is known as the legal limit. Most people who drive while their BAL is at or above the legal limit might only feel “slightly buzzed” rather than completely intoxicated. The buzzed sensation leads to the conclusion that a person has the capacity to drive safely. However, it only takes a small amount of alcohol to impair one’s ability to drive.
Unfortunately, one mistake in judgment can ruin many lives. Therefore, if you are charged with DUI in Brevard County, Florida, you need to seek the legal representation of aggressive DUI defense counsel who will devise an aggressive defense strategy designed to help you avoid the extremely harsh consequences that flow from making a simple mistake. Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to speak with our Brevard County, Florida, DUI defense lawyers. Our Brevard County DUI defense attorneys enjoy a highly regarded reputation for excellence in their representation of their clients and are well-regarded for achieving the best result possible.
DUI Charges in Brevard County, Florida
Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes establishes the law of DUI in the state. Law enforcement agents and prosecutors can use two, albeit complementary, theories of liability to arrest and punish a person for DUI outlined in the statute. The first theory of culpability relates to a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely because of intoxication from alcohol and drugs. Section 316.193 indicates that a person is guilty of DUI under the first theory of guilt if he or she is driving or has control over the motor vehicle while his or her normal ability to function is impaired by either a) consumption of alcohol, b) ingestion of drugs, or c) consumption of alcohol and drugs.
The drugs consumed by the alleged offender does not have to be illicit narcotics to allow for conviction. The person could take a substance lawful to possess but unlawful to ingest as defined by §877.111 of the Florida Statutes, or illicit narcotics defined in Chapter 893 of the Florida Statutes.
Law enforcement officers in Brevard County, Florida, receive extensive training on the identification and apprehension of people driving under the influence. Consequently, they are trained to look for signs of intoxication when a person is driving and when speaking with an individual. Law enforcement officers will pay extremely close attention to how a person drives for an indication that he or she may be driving under the influence. Indicators such as weaving, failing to stay within lanes, speeding, erratic slowing and speeding, failing to obey traffic signals, and other observations of erratic driving are strong evidence that a person is driving under the influence. However, those indicators also suggest that an individual is driving while fatigued. Alcohol consumption can cause tiredness; however, a person could drive while fatigued without being under the influence. All of these factors would give the police officer sufficient constitutional grounds to stop the car and encounter the driver.
When the car pulls over, the officer will have paid close attention to how the car came to a stop. The officer will know whether the driver responded immediately, had a difficult time pulling over safely, or did so in an unsafe or erratic manner. By this time, the law enforcement officer is already building a case that the driver is under the influence of alcohol.
Once the officer arrives at the side of the car and begins speaking with the individual inside, the officer already has a strong opinion about the level of intoxication of the driver. The officer will look for additional science to confirm his or her suspicion that the driver is intoxicated. Other signs of intoxication include the odor of alcohol, glassy eyes, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, sleepiness, lack of concentration, confusion, incoherent statements, and difficulty remembering certain details. The officer will watch closely as to how the driver retrieves his or her driver’s license as well as proof of registration of the car. Any mistake made by the driver, even if it was due to nervousness or anxiety, will be interpreted by the officer as a sign of intoxication.
The officer would order the person out of the car to perform field sobriety tests if the officer perceived any evidence that the individual was under the influence. The officer, once again, will be watching very closely for signs of intoxication that confirm his or her suspicion. When persons under the influence of getting out of a car, they might have a difficult time standing, could be unsteady on their feet, lose the balance when getting out of the car fumble with the door lock or the door handle, or seem confused.
The officer will then have the individual perform field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are a little more than calisthenics. The idea supporting the administration of field sobriety tests stems from a tenuous conclusion that a person’s ability to perform field sobriety tests on the road correlated to safe driving. Police officers cannot account for all the variables inherent in the human condition, which might explain poor performance on a field sobriety test. Notwithstanding, police officers use the field sobriety tests as a means to gather evidence against the driver, rather than as a way to dispel suspicion.
During the field sobriety test, the police officer will pay very close attention to how the suspect follows directions, pays attention, remains steady or falls off-balance, as well as follows instructions precisely. Poor performance on field sobriety tests could be the result of physical problems, emotional problems, mental problems, or even nervousness. Notwithstanding all of those explanations, a failure of a field sobriety test will result in the individual’s arrest.
Attacking field sobriety tests successfully is a skill that is developed with experience. A successful Brevard County DUI attorney will understand the failings of field sobriety tests and the limitations of them. A successful DUI defense lawyer in Brevard County will have developed a strategy to cross-examine the arresting officer about the manner in which the officer gave field sobriety tests, the conditions under which the field sobriety tests were administered, as well as the officer’s interpretation of the person’s performance during the field sobriety test. Frequently, a police officer will indicate that the person suspected of DUI failed the field sobriety test, however, when a skilled and experienced Brevard County DUI defense attorney has a chance to cross-examine the officer, the jury learns that the officer either overstated how poorly the person performed on the field sobriety tests or that the officer grated the performance too harshly. Vigorous cross-examination in this light will demonstrate to the jury that the police officer rushed to judgment and did not look for other evidence of innocence. Instead, the officer was solely concerned with finding evidence of guilt.
The second theory of culpability relates to failing a chemical test. If the suspect’s BAL was 0.08 grams of alcohol for every 100 milliliters of blood or every 210 liters of breath, then the person could be charged with a per se violation of §316.193. The per se limit in Florida, as in every other state, is 0.08%. This is often called the legal limit.
After the arrest, the law enforcement officer will ask the person under arrest to take chemical tests. The results of that chemical test can be used against the individual at trial, as well as the refusal to take the chemical test. Chemical tests are not insurmountable evidence of guilt, however. All expert evidence is subject to questioning.
Chemical tests are only as reliable as the theory underpinning the test as well as the manner in which it works administered coupled with the reliability of the interpretation of the results of the test. Any flaw in either of those points could influence the jury to disregard the evidence. People by now know that machines, and certainly the people operating the machines, are fallible. Therefore, simply because the machine generated a result does not equate to that result being infallible.
Penalties for DUI Convictions in Melbourne, Florida
A person convicted of DUI in Brevard County, Florida, will suffer harsh consequences imposed by the criminal justice system and collateral consequences imposed by society. The person convicted of a first offense DUI could face a maximum jail sentence of six months, a fine between $500.00 an $1000, one year of probation, attend DUI offender school, and perform up to 50 hours of community service. The court must revoke the offender’s driver’s license for up to 180 days, according to §322.28 of the Florida Statutes. Also, the judge could order the installation of an ignition interlock device and impound the car.
As with most crimes in Florida, a conviction for DUI follows the individual forever. Additionally, the offender could lose his or her job due to license loss, pay enormous insurance premiums, and face family problems because of a DUI conviction.
The person facing second offense DUI charges in Brevard County, Florida, could receive up to nine months in jail, pay a fine between $1000 and $2000 and suffer additional license loss for up to one year. Additionally, the judge must sentence the person to jail for at least ten days if the prior conviction fell within the previous five years. Fortunately, anytime a person spends in an inpatient rehabilitation facility could apply those days as credit towards the ten-day jail sentence.
The judge can order the offender’s vehicle to be impounded and also order the offender too attend DUI school, additional treatment for drug or alcohol use, as well as installing an ignition interlock device.
The penalty for a third offense DUI conviction in Brevard County, Florida, could be either a first-degree misdemeanor or a third-degree felony depending on the timing of the previous convictions. If the person’s second conviction falls within the last ten years, then the person faces a felony DUI charge. However, if the second offense happened longer than ten-years before the third DUI charge, then the person faces a first-degree misdemeanor. A first-degree misdemeanor carries a potential one-year jail sentence. Conversely, a third-degree felony conviction could land the person in prison for up to five years. The judge must impose a 30-day jail sentence, at a minimum, for a person convicted of a third offense DUI charged as a felony. The maximum fine a judge could impose is $5000. Additionally, the offender must install an ignition interlock device on his or her car for at least two years, and the individual’s driver’s license could be suspended for up to ten years.
The most serious DUI offense not involving an accident is a fourth or subsequent offense DUI charge. A fourth or subsequent conviction for DUI in Brevard County is a third-degree felony. The judge must impose a 30-day jail sentence along with the revocation of the driver’s license permanently. The offender could get the driver’s license back if he or she complies with all of the requirements established by Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Enhanced Penalties for Certain DUI Crimes in Brevard County, Florida
Driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.15% or driving with a child under eighteen in the car will result in a potentially longer jail sentence. In either of these circumstances, the first-time offender could receive a nine-month jail sentence, or the second-time offender could receive a one-year jail sentence. Additionally, the minimum fines rise to $1000 for a first-time offender and $2000 for a person charged with a subsequent offense.
Florida law imposes enhanced penalties for severe incidents involving DUI offenses. For example, an individual who was driving under the influence and causes a car accident that results in minor personal injury or property damage faces a first-degree misdemeanor. Additionally, if the individual who is intoxicated causes an accident that results in the serious bodily injury of another faces a third-degree felony punishment.
The most serious DUI related charge is DUI manslaughter. A conviction for DUI manslaughter carries a maximum fifteen-year state prison sentence, with a four-year minimum mandatory prison sentence. Additionally, the offender will lose his or her driver’s license forever.
Temporary Drivers’ Licenses After an Arrest for DUI
The arresting officer must take the driver’s license of a person arrested for DUI if he or she refuses to take a breath or chemical test. Additionally, the person who takes a chemical test or breath test will receive a temporary license that is valid for ten days after the officer takes his or her driver’s license.
License loss is a huge inconvenience to people. Consequently, the State of Florida allows people to appeal the officer’s decision to a hearings officer. The hearings officer will determine whether the arresting officer violated Florida law when administering the test or when offering the test to the accused.
These are very difficult hearings to win; however, they do give the defense a chance to develop a strong strategy at trial. You must consult with an experienced and knowledgeable DUI defense attorney from Brevard County if you wish to appeal the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. You only have ten days from the date of suspension to lodge your appeal. You must be very wary when appealing the officer’s decision to administratively suspend your driver’s license because of the danger that you could incriminate yourself. If you were charged with DUI in Brevard County, you have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. Therefore, you should remain silent and allow an attorney to speak on your behalf. Otherwise, anything you say will be used against you in the prosecution of the case.
A person convicted of DUI will have his or her license suspended. However, he or she can obtain a business license upon completion of or entry in DUI school and waiting for the minimum amount of time to apply. Sometimes these licenses are known as hardship licenses or Cinderella licenses.
DUI Defense Strategies
Attacking the constitutionality of the law enforcement officer’s actions in the case can often benefit the accused. Filing a motion to exclude evidence based on unconstitutional police officer behavior could lead to the dismissal of your case if the police committed a constitutional error when pulling you over. Additionally, your defense could strengthen if you can test the validity of the statements that you made. A Miranda violation could force the judge to rule in your favor, and order the suppression of any statements you made to the police during your arrest. Most times, this will not cause the prosecution to dismiss the DUI charges. But suppression of any statements you made will weaken the prosecution’s case and potentially force them to give you a plea bargain to a lesser charge.
A Brevard County DUI lawyer with extensive experience taking DUI cases to trial will develop the most persuasive case for you to mitigate the damage done by making one mistake.
Musca Law: Brevard DUI Lawyers Fight for Your Rights
Call Musca Law today at 888-484-5057 to speak with our DUI defense lawyers from Brevard County. They have the experience, resources, and knowledge that will make a difference for you in your DUI case. Whether you are looking to beat the case at trial or suffer the least-severe consequences, Musca Law’s Brevard County lawyers will work closely with you to develop the best defense strategy for you. Our Melbourne DUI lawyers are available 24/7 to represent you.